“I finally made it,” he said recently. “A senior citizen, I’m now also a rookie novelist.”
Avett worked on several Tar Heel daily or weekly newspapers before landing in the Southern Smokies at the extreme western end of the state.
“All old newsmen dream of writing a novel, and many of them do,” he says. “We soon learn to write — we are basically wordsmiths — and it’s fairly common to try a different style of writing.”
“Murder in Caney Fork” is a murder mystery with lots of action and a courtroom drama at the end, set in the swamp country of Eastern North Carolina, where Avett worked before coming to the mountains.
“I love good stories,” he says. “All my fiction is based on stories people have told me, or I have witnessed, or that I have participated in. I think that makes the book ring true and I see it as critical in making it believeable.
“My father was a Methodist preacher and I grew up with good storytellers all around me, friends and family. I’ve met a lot of colorful characters over the years, and they inspire my writing.
“Good writing has to be based on truth. So I write like a granny woman makes a quilt, producing fiction that is actually fashioned from bits and pieces of raw truth.”
He is an avid reader and gardener, a Sunday school teacher and gospel singer, hunter, fisherman and reluctant handyman. He likes history, has sold cabins to Florida retirees and often tells funny stories.
Readers interested in Southern, mystery and thriller books should enjoy “Murder in Caney Fork.” Names and places have been altered, he said, to avoid hurt feelings or lawsuits.
A second book, with the working title “Last Bigfoot in Dixie,” is scheduled for publication later this year. It’s also fiction and is set in a mountain town terrorized by a killer bear and then a local narco-thug.
Avett’s book (paperback or digital download) is available now on Amazon and at Books-A-Million and Barnes & Noble. It is also at the website of his publisher, BelleBooks of Memphis.